“Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.” – Simon Pegg
“You’re a geek.”
The word was one I heard often in school as I was growing up. I wore glasses, had braces on my teeth, and was significantly shorter than everyone else in my grade. I played the piano, was obsessed with Pokémon, and lived for each and every history class. I loved any and all board games, finding any way I could to play them; in my 8th grade homeroom, I even started a competitive Candy Land group. Most of all, I was obsessed with cats. At the time, I honestly liked them more than people.
Back then, and even now, the word geek often carries a negative meaning – as someone who is a peculiar, strange person; someone perceived to be too smart, unfashionable, and incredibly awkward.
Today is “Embrace Your Geekness” day. But what does this mean when the word is often interpreted like this?
And, it’s been interpreted this way for a surprisingly long amount of time.
Back as far as the 1800’s, a geek was considered someone who was regarded as foolish, offensive or worthless.
In the 1900s, a geek was a carnival performer who enacts sensationally morbid or disgusting acts.
The 1950s considered a geek an “unsociable person, freakishly devoted to something, usually intellectual”.
A geek in the 1980s was a “person with deep computer and technology knowledge”. It was often an insult.
Even now, these older, negative definitions still linger with the word. Think about times that the word geek has been used – how often does it fit one of these definitions from the past?
In today’s time, however, being a geek means something different: a person “who has excessive enthusiasm for and some expertise about a specialized subject or activity”.
If being a geek means having something that you are passionate about, then wouldn’t everyone be a geek? Being a geek doesn’t mean just enjoying what is seen as stereotypically geeky. You could be geeky for cooking, geeky for sports, geeky for the Kardashians or other celebrity gossip, or even geeky for your job.
Everyone has something that they care about; everyone has that one thing that they love. We put so much emphasis on finding our passions and pursuing them, especially in college. So then, shouldn’t everyone want to be a geek?
While the braces and glasses might be gone, that geeky boy is alive and well within me. I’ve continued to play piano for 13 years, celebrate every new Pokémon game, and I read presidential biographies for fun. Sometimes I joke that I have more board games in my closet than I do clothes. I also still love cats, and love them way more than people.
But, now in adulthood, there’s so much more that I’m geeky for. I’m geeky for journalism – I read the New York Times every morning and I study journalism in school. I’ve worked as a Starbucks barista for over two years – I even consider myself to be geeky for coffee.
The kids in middle school were right. I am a geek, and that shouldn’t be something I look down upon; it should be something that I celebrate.
Starting today, it’s time to stop hiding what you’re geeky about. Instead, be proud of it. Embrace it. That’s what today is for.
Photo: maniskis12 | freeimages.com